I Saw ‘Sleep No More’ Again Last Night But Didn’t See Any Naked People

I went to Sleep No More last night for the second time. If you aren’t aware of the immersive, interactive theater experience, don’t feel bad: plenty of people I’ve talked to in the last few months seem to be unaware of the production, despite the show’s popularity in New York since it opened in March 2011. Taking elements from Macbeth, Rebecca, Hitchcock, and Kubrick (just to name a few), the show is up to three hours of wandering around in the darkened multi-level McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, where bloodied actors run, dance, and fight accompanied to a blaring, dramatic score. And sometimes they get naked, too! But I wouldn’t know anything about that, because despite my best efforts, I seem to have missed out on all the fun parts.

Here’s what I saw last night: a pregnant woman being thrown against a wall by an angry man in a tuxedo, a hot guy lip-syncing to a cover of Peggy Lee’s "Is That All There Is," Macbeth and Lady Macbeth fighting in loud gibberish in a room full of empty drawers, the aforementioned pregnant woman taking off and on her housecoat (a scene I saw twice—the sequence of events happens multiple times so that the audience members can see the multiple storylines—because I happened to be exploring the woman’s bedroom right before she and a crowd of my fellow masked theatergoers trapped me in the corner of the room during the second instance of the scene), and a severe looking maid forcing the pregnant woman with a glass of cloudy water. Oh, and some ballroom dancing. That was kinda fun! 

Afterward, I asked my friends who came with me (from whom I was immediately separated, as the show encourages solo experiences rather than tagging along with loved ones through the dark) what they saw. My boyfriend saw the famous orgy scene not once but twice, while our other friend complained that he mostly saw a bunch of dudes sitting around and playing cards or doing paperwork. (There are, I must admit, some really dull moments, and because you can’t check your cell phone for the time, the three hours start to feel like five.) While I missed two women breast-feeding a goat or the full-frontal male nudity, I did happen to see a nip-slip when a woman in a low-cut dress started writhing on a dilapidated bar while another woman in a red dress tossed water on her. (No one told me that there were some Flashdance references there.)

So it’s an unpopular opinion, I think, but I must admit that my second time at Sleep No More was kind of a bust, and while the production as a whole is pretty fucking amazing considering the design and choreography, the chances that you have any personal experiences with the actors (or see any dicks) are slim and random, leaving it feeling rather like a pretentious haunted house without the frights. I know plenty of people who have gone back multiple times, but the current price of admission ($95, which is up twenty bucks from when I saw it last year) leave me feeling like it’s probably not worth a third visit. But I still recommend it for the experience. And hey, Scores and The Eagle (depending on your gender preference) are a block away if you’re unsatisfied with the nudity at Sleep No More.

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Watch Stylist’s Behind-the-Scenes Video of BlackBook’s September Ladyfag Shoot

For our 15th anniversary September fashion story, editor Chris Campbell, inestimable nightlife fixture Ladyfag, and a gaggle of harness-wearing leather daddies headed to The Eagle for a ’70s-era, Roxanne Lowit-inspired shoot. Our friends at Stylist documented the day of vamping for their new series dedicated to “some of the biggest and brightest names in the industry as they create their most important issue of the year.” (Sure, we’ll float our own boat.) Take a look at the results after the jump, and hear Campbell pose – and answer – the question, “Do you have any dirty wife beaters?”

Celebrating Gay Pride 2011 & Chatting with Olivia Newton-John

There were a thousand people reporting a thousand stories on Gay Pride 2011. Even the mainstream media hit hard, as the right for gays to marry and have the same legal rights as everyone else in our society has finally become the law of the land. Someday, many years from now, we will look back, and it will be like looking at Columbus’ time, when people thought the world was flat. People will wonder what took us so long to get this right. Anyway, this weekend, I set my sights on interviewing Olivia Newton-John.

She was playing a Josh Woods and FornabaioVoss Events blowout on Governors Island saturday night. Some very helpful people over at Big Machine Media (shout out to Jessica Berek) came to my assistance, hooking me up with Olivia’s person, Michael Caprio. I didn’t even have to grovel much or say things like “Please Mr. Please,” or “You’re The One That I Want,” or “I’m Hopelessly Devoted To You,” or go so far as to invoke “I Honestly Love You.” They worked really hard to get me this interview, and Michael Caprio, I got to believe that you are “Magic.” It had to be over the phone, but I was going to talk to Olivia Newton-John and I, who never gets flabbergasted, was star struck and awe struck at the opportunity.

I went in decidedly punch drunk as my week was a little rough. I opened Hotel Chantelle’s rooftop, my Chihuahua and a piece of my heart, Arturo, passed away after 17 years, and my mother-in-law flew in to inspect me. My phoner with Ms. Newton-John kept being pushed back. I thought it was done with as I walked through Thompson Square Park on my way to a little slice of heaven, er, Xanadu. But the phone screamed and it was Michael Caprio: “Could you do Olivia in 8 minutes?” As a thousand OMGs bounced around inside my head, I ran to a deli, got a pen and pad, and called back. I exchanged “hey’s” ‘hello’s” and “where are you’s” with the legendary singer/actress/activist. She knew I was blushing and bumbling and was as sweet, helpful, and fun as can be. She was on a ferry having just finished sound check. A police helicopter hovering directly over my head wouldn’t allow me to get it right. The copter moved as I did and I felt a little like Henry Hill from Goodfellas. Everyone knows I have “Never Been Mellow,” and I must have been a sight yelling at the sky on one of these “Summer Nights.” In the end, we decided to do this via e-mail.

I wasn’t happy with New York’s finest in general this weekend, as it became known that even while the historic legislation’s ink was still drying on Friday night, a squadron of cops raided the leather and Levi’s bar The Eagle. They reportedly shined flashlights in people’s faces, searched them, and were all around bad sports. The timing of the raid was questioned and Manhattan Borough President Scott Springer has stepped up, demanding an investigation. I’d like him to also find out why that chopper was overhead while I was trying to interview Olivia Newton-John—okay, okay, investigate the Eagle thing first.

I headed to Williamsburg and straight to Graceland tattoo and salon for some advice on what questions to ask. They know Olivia over at Graceland and “Let’s Get Physical” was playing as I entered. They were all busy inking and cutting and I knew I had come to the right place. “What should I ask her?” I implored. Everyone knows the history…Grease, a zillion big records, Xanadu. Everyone chimed in, including the customers. After a couple dozen “I can’t ask her that’s,” a question I could actually dare to ask came forth. Here’s my e-interview: Hey, it’s Steve Lewis from BlackBook. I’m sitting in Graceland tattoo and hair salon in Williamsburg where they all love you. We’re listening to “I Honestly Love You,” and we want to know who you were singing to. Every time I sing the song it has a new meaning. I can’t remember who it was then!

This year’s Gay Pride is special because of the historic marriage legislation. Your performance is such a great part of this great celebration. Tell me about your feelings and what you have to say to a community that has always embraced you. I have many gay friends that I love and care about, and I’m so happy that they can now share their lives with their chosen loved ones and be afforded the same rights as other married couples.

Why do you think that you’re so iconic in this community and loved by so many people in general? I don’t know but I’m very grateful for it! I guess I’ve been around long enough, was lucky enough to be in two iconic movies and had great songs that have endured.

You have a world class smile, do you have a dark side as well and how does it manifest itself? You will never know! Ask my husband!

Today is part of Gay Pride weekend and with that comes a question about celebrities who are in the closet. Many feel their “coming out” would help the general acceptance of gay people in society, while many embrace their right to privacy. How do you feel? I feel, as with everything, that it is everyone’s right to privacy. We have to respect people’s choices.

What are you working on these days? I just filmed a movie with Stephan Elliot and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, called A Few Best Men. I played mother of the bride, which is art imitating life as my beautiful daughter Chloe is engaged to be married! I also have a dance mix of “Magic” available on iTunes now and the money goes to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Australia. The centre has two floors dedicated to research with the Ludwig Institute, plus a state of the art cancer treatment center. But best of all, there is a wellness centre to support the patient and their family going through cancer. For more information, go here.

London: Top 5 Genuine English Pubs

imageThe antidote to all that metropolitan posturing.

1. Market Porter (South East) – Pints of ale alongside balloon-biceped meat packers. 2. Trafalgar Tavern (South East) – Where to come for olde-worlde maritime atmosphere. 3. Windsor Castle (Kensington & Notting Hill) – London’s strangest, most royally devoted pub.

4. Ye Olde Mitre (City) – Ancient and atmospheric old-school English inn. 5. The Eagle (Clerkenwell & Shoreditch) – Legendary pub with a beer garden in the back.